And some of its intended uses are quite shocking. According to reports, Musk believes “the robot could be used in homes, even becoming a ‘buddy’ or a ‘catgirl’ sex partner. So far, Tesla is flirting with the names “Tesla Bot or Optimus.”
“Basically, if you think about what we’re doing right now with cars, Tesla is arguably the world’s biggest robotics company because our cars are like semi-sentient robots on wheels,” Musk said during last year’s announcement.
It may sound crazy, but the news has gained significant attention among mainstream media outlets. Fortune said Musk “is getting ready to unleash an army of humanoid robots.”
According to Entrepreneur, “engineers are racing to unveil Tesla’s latest big promise under a tight deadline: a dynamic, human-like robot.” They said the robots are meant to be “‘friendly’ and help people avoid physical labor.”
They hope to meet that deadline by Sept. 30, which is considered “AI Day” by enthusiasts.
Still, some experts believe consumers will be slow to adopt the new technology.
“This market is very, very challenging market because you buy this big expensive robot, but it actually cannot do much,” Heni Ben Amor, a robotics professor at Arizona State University, told Reuters.
The New York Post also cited skepticism among investors: “Tesla faces skepticism that it can show technological advances that would justify the expense of ‘general purpose’ robots in factories, homes and elsewhere, according to robotics experts.”
“To succeed, Tesla will need to show robots doing multiple, unscripted actions,” said Nancy Cooke, a professor in human systems engineering at Arizona State University.
“If he just gets the robot to walk around, or he gets the robots to dance, that’s already been done. That’s not that impressive.”
However, she also admitted that offering that proof could boost Tesla’s fledgling stock, which is down 25% this year.